After the Fact

Do you ever find yourself creating a feeling - particularly a negative feeling - based on something that happened in the past? Here's the idea: You're feeling pretty good, then your mind pictures an experience that normally would have you not feeling so great, compares it to the current experience and then, through the power of the memory, you start feeling bad?

I found myself doing just that. Our grandson is learning to use the potty, and between me determining that "now might be a good time to try" and him indicating that he had to pee or poo, he was on the potty 7 times in 5 hours. The potty that we've been using for this is on the second floor, which means up a flight of stairs. I have my office, another bathroom, and other important rooms in the basement, which is down a flight of stairs. Sometimes he chooses "down a stairs" instead of "up a stairs" for potty attempt, so I get stair-climbing either way. All in all, in one 5 hour period, I have probably been up and down the two different stair cases over a dozen times. Normally I'd be feeling the effects of that much up-and-down, but today I wasn't.

Then the most amazing thing happened: In my mind flashed images of other times I'd just gone up and down a few times, but felt tired and out of breath from the experience. Just that tiny memory sent my body into the same feelings - tired and out of breath. Just from the memory! That old pattern, the one that said I ought to be tired or out of breath, even though I wasn't, affected my present moment in a not particularly pleasant way. Once I realized what was happening I said to myself "this is ridiculous! I'm not going to be a slave to my past" and immediately all the negative feelings went away. It was a great reminder of how the past can reach out and grab us, taking our feelings - both emotional and physical - along with us.

As a child I recall recoiling in fear every time I was taken to the pediatrician. The memory that invariably popped into my mind was the one where shots were given, or when the doctor worked on me even though I was screaming in pain. I suppose it's a natural thing for the mind to present us with the worst possible scenario in order to protect us, but boy does it limit our ability to enjoy our present!

I'm finding that the best thing we can do when we notice feelings that don't match how we want to feel is to breathe and get grounded. If the feeling continues, try to just allow the feeling to pass through your body. If it seems significant you might ask "what's this all about?" If no answer is forthcoming, just let it go. You might be get a thought or an image at some later time that will open up your understanding of the issue. Try not to get judgmental with yourself, these are the times when beliefs that no longer serve us are being released, so it's completely appropriate to release them!

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